ANNOUNCEMENT 13 May 2009In May 2009, the government of Germany announced a change in private-sector financial support.
NUMBER OF INTERVENTIONS
Official letter from EC to Germany in German from 13.5.2009, NN25/2009:
Official letter from the EC to Germany in English from 19.12.2012, SA.35378:
Press release on decision from 20.2.2014, IP/14/173, C27/2007:
List of busiest airports in Europe:
On 13 May 2009, the European Commission allowed German authorities to grant state aid for the construction of the Berlin Brandenburg International airport. The largest aid was provided through a EUR 2.4 billion guarantee with a running time of 25 years.
The beneficiary is the Flughafen Berlin Schoenefeld GmbH (herafter: FBS) which managed all three airports of Berlin - Tempelhof (closed on 30 October 2008), Tegel and Schoenefeld. FBS is owned at 37% by the Federal Republic of Germany and at 26% each by the Laender of Berlin and Brandenburg.
On 28 May 1996, the shareholders of FBS decided to build a new international airport which would replace the previous three, as they were deemed insufficient for the increasing air traffic. Due to its suitability, FBS decided to invest and expand the Schoenefeld airport. The investment covered the construction of a new passenger terminal, as well as the expansion and introduction of new runways among other features.
Of the guarantee worth EUR 2.4 million, the European Investment Bank provided 0.6 million in December 2008 and 0.4 million in 2009. The remaining EUR 1.4 million of the guarantee was financed by other banks. Except the guarantee, the FBS received back in 2005 a soft loan of EUR 224.5 million and grants worth EUR 430 million. In 2007, Brandenburg decided to invest another EUR 74 million for the construction of a private road to the airport.
Another public financing case involving the airport took place in 2012 when on 28 November the European Commission allowed for a capital injection worth EUR 1.2 billion required to complete Berlin Brandenburg International's construction. The additional financial resources proved necessary after a national court ruled the airport having to increase noise protection for local residents. In addition, planning and construction problems involving the fire safety system in the main terminal had arisen.
Also, on 20 February 2014, the EC ruled in a related investigation started back in 2007 that public interventions at the Berlin Schoenefeld Airport did not constitute state aid within the meaning of EU state aid rules. The interventions involved an agreement providing for a "compensation" of losses generated by the aiport, as well as multiple bilateral agreements concluded with several air carriers and a tenancy agreement between the airport management and easyJet governing its use of certain offices and check-in desks.
According to the Commission, the measures will "strengthen its 'i.e. the airport's' position on the European market for airport services compared to its competitors. Therefore, the investigated financing by the public sector distorts or threatens to distort competition and affects trade between Member States" (para. 50, letter from the EC to Germany, Brussels 13.5.2009; own translation).
A state measure in the GTA database is assessed solely in terms of the extent to which its implementation affects the extent of discrimination against foreign commercial interests. On this metric, the state aid proposed here is discriminatory.
Due to the magnitude of the airport involved, it would be insufficient to count local airports in the region as the ones affected by the state aid scheme. Instead, the largest European airports are nowadays in competition to become the main hubs for long-distance routes. As it is likely that Berlin Brandenburg International will enter this market, the list of affected partners was compiled based on the 20 largest airports in Europe. These large hubs are more likely to compete in the future with the beneficiary as opposed to nearby airports in Leipzig/Halle or Szczecin, Poland.
On 3 August 2016, the Commission granted further state aid to help finish the construction of the airport (cf. Related Measures).